Auto Theft Laws in Florida

Intentionally taking another person’s motor vehicle, whether for temporary use or to keep permanently, is a felony in Florida.

Intentionally taking another person’s motor vehicle, whether for temporary use or to keep permanently, is a felony in Florida.

Grand Theft

In Florida, a person who knowingly takes or uses another person’s motor vehicle with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of the vehicle, either temporarily or permanently, is guilty of the felony of grand theft. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §812.014.) The felony degree depends upon the value of the vehicle and/or whether the defendant used the vehicle as a weapon or to commit other offenses, as discussed below. And because the crime includes even temporary use, joyriding is prosecuted under the same statute.

Obtains or uses

Florida law defines the term “obtains or uses” to include stealing, keeping property beyond the time or scope of use permitted by the owner. It also defines the term to include obtaining property by lies, fraud, or trickery. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §812.012.)

Motor vehicle

Florida law defines the term “motor vehicle” as a self-propelled vehicle not operated on rail, including the automobile, motorcycle, truck, semitrailer, truck tractor, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of the state and propelled by power other than muscle power. The term does not include vehicles that travel upon a track or rail, bicycles, or mopeds. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § §316.003, 320.01.)

Failure to Return a Rental Car and Fraudulent Retention

Any person who intentionally keeps a rental vehicle after the end of the rental period and without the consent of the rental company is guilty of a felony in Florida. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §812.133.) Such illegal retention of a rental vehicle is considered a theft.

And anyone who obtains custody of a vehicle by fraud, trickery, or deceit is likewise guilty of the felony of theft. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §812.133.) For example, a person who persuades a neighbor to “lend” her his car by falsely claiming that the neighbor’s wife gave permission for the loan is guilty of motor vehicle theft by fraud in Florida.

Carjacking

Under Florida law, “carjacking” is the intentional and temporary or permanent taking of a motor vehicle from another through the use of force, violence, assault, or threats. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §812.52.) Anyone who carries a firearm or other deadly weapon while committing a carjacking faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

How is Motor Vehicle Theft Punished in Florida?

The possible penalty faced by a person convicted of motor vehicle theft in Florida depends upon the value of the vehicle, among other things, as discussed below.

Grand theft

Generally, motor vehicle theft in Florida is a felony in the third degree. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §812.014.) A person convicted of a felony in the third degree faces a sentence not to exceed five years in prison, a fine not to exceed $5,000, or both (Fla. Stat. Ann. § §775.082, 775.083), and suspension of his or her driver’s license for a period of up to six months (Fla. Stat. Ann. §812.014.)

A person who steals a vehicle valued at $20,000 or more but less than $100,000, or who steals an emergency or law enforcement vehicle, is guilty of a felony in the second degree. A person convicted of a felony in the second degree faces a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § §775.082, 775.083.)

A person who steals a vehicle valued at $100,000 or more, or causes damage of more than $1,000 to real or personal property during the crime, has committed a felony in the first degree. A person convicted of a felony in the first degree faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § §775.082, 775.083.)

Failure to return rental car

Failure to return a rental vehicle or obtaining a motor vehicle through fraud or deceit is a felony in the third degree in Florida. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §812.133.) A person convicted of a felony in the third degree faces a sentence of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § §775.082, 775.083.)

Carjacking

Carjacking is a felony in the first degree in Florida. (Fla. Stat. Ann. §812.52.) If the carjacker carried a deadly weapon during the crime, he faces a sentence of up to life in prison, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § §775.082, 775.083.) If the carjacker did not carry a deadly weapon, he faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § §775.082, 775.083.)

See A Lawyer

A charge of motor vehicle theft of any degree is a serious charge in Florida. If you have been charged with any motor vehicle crime or have questions about motor vehicle theft, see an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area.

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